I suppose the old football cliche "a win is a win" applies here... The Eagles, like the weather, weren't pretty but in the end they got the job done in what ended up as the unlikeliest of circumstances.
Onto some headlines...
The McNabb offense vs the no McNabb offense
I think this game really highlighted exactly why the Eagles have struggled offensively at times this year. They have two offenses. One is the "with McNabb" offense that we've seen sputter all year... The other is an effective run first, hard nosed, grind it out offense that saw them run the table and win the NFC East last year. After McNabb went down today that offense came out to play. They ground the Dolphins down and grabbed big chunks of yardage on nearly every play. I give AJ Feeley some credit for getting rid of the ball much faster than McNabb and doing a decent job, but clearly that game was won on the back of Brian Westbrook and the offensive line imposing their will on Miami.
In other words, this game really showed me that the struggles of this offense really isn't on McNabb. Andy didn't learn his lesson last year when Garcia was able to be successful managing that run first Eagles offense. I'm sure he won't learn after watching what happened today. I'm not sure he'll ever give Donovan McNabb the opportunity to manage that kind of offense.
Record setting day for Westbrook
B-West put up career highs in both carries(32) and rushing yards(148) today despite that fact before the game he was listed as questionable with some knee swelling. Suffice to say, he looked pretty damn healthy out there today. What's more amazing, if that Westbrook caught only one pass today and if memory serves it was just a little shovel that was basically a glorified handoff.
What to say about the defense?
I really don't know what to say about the defensive effort today. On one hand, they pitched a shutout. The Fins lone points came off the punt return, no points came from their offense. Against the run, the D was pretty ferocious often hitting Miami RB Jesse Chatman in the backfield and limiting him to just 3.3 yards a rush. All that said, I wasn't impressed by the defensive performance. They barely even hurried John Beck, they dropped at least 2 or 3 sure interceptions, they forced no fumbles... I don't want to complain too much about a unit that only allowed 186 yards of offense and no points, but I think the main reason Miami couldn't move the ball was because their rookie QB just couldn't get his passes on target. Heading up to New England to face the Patriots next week I was hoping to see a more playmaking Eagles defense that I did not see... Another nice goal line stand though!
McNabb is okay. Actually I should say his ankle is okay
Because he was certainly not "ok." Both of his picks were bad, but the second one was just terrible. The ball was thrown directly to the Miami defender and what's worse it was right near the goal line. So was his first INT. Those were two scoring opportunities squandered by poor decisions. The first INT I was pretty annoyed at simply because McNabb had so much time yet still elected to throw it to a covered WR, that said I think Reggie Brown could have done a better job coming back to the ball. Donovan was pretty lucky the Dolphins just plain aren't good enough to take advantage of the opportunities he gave them. If he plays like that next Sunday, well this thing could be over before the first quarter is.
The X-Rays on his ankle were negative and they're calling it a sprain. After the game Andy said he doesn't know whether McNabb will be available for next week. It depends on whether the ankle swells up over the next day or two.
The special teams suck. How's that for witty?
I really don't know any other way to put this. The return game has been an absolute joke all year, frankly it's been a joke for several years. Finally, the coverage teams have caught up. Greg Lewis whiffed on what should have been an easy tackle on Tedd Ginn jr. In fact, watching it live I couldn't believe Ginn didn't fair catch it because Lewis had him lined up for what should have been a big hit... I gotta say, Greg Lewis has been absolutely useless this year. He hasn't done anything well.
I think the punt coverage has only really looked decent because Sav Rocca has been putting so much hang time on his kicks. Usually the opposition fair catches the ball or has no time to set up a return. To be fair to Sav, today was no different. Greg Lewis just whiffed.